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Citation:Honig, M. I. (2001). Managing from the middle: The role of intermediary organizations in the implementation of complex education policy. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA.

Annotation:
This case study expands the research base on intermediary organizations as a distinct class of third-party institutions implementing complex education policy. Intermediary organizations are defined as ones that "support the provision of services by another organization rather than providing direct services itself." They tend to be technical assistance providers or capacity-building organizations, such as universities (Harkavy & Puckett, 1991), school reform providers (Wechslee & Fredrick, 1997), or resource and referral organizations (Panett, et al., 2000). The author found that, in practice, the intermediary organizations served the important political functions of facilitating joint ownership in change, establishing collective accountability, and sustaining participation of policymakers in school reform. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with Oakland, CA policymakers, school principals, and community agency directors of four intermediary organizations, established to help implement complex education policy between 1998-2000. Although this study supports the case that intermediaries are an important emerging trend in education, and there are some specific roles in which they can effectively help bring about school reform by connecting community policymakers with schools, further research is needed on the most productive ways for those connections to occur. The study does not evaluate each intermediary organization, but strives to develop descriptive theory about features that distinguish intermediaries as a distinct class of organizations, how they vary within that class, and what their resources and liabilities are, given current implementation challenges in education.

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